National Coastwatch Institution Watchkeepers needed at St Donat’s Bay

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) and UWC Atlantic are pleased to announce they have been working collaboratively to create a Coastwatch station on the bay of St Donat’s overlooking the Bristol channel.

This new station opened in May 2021, after a winter of zoom training and planning, with the first intake of crew obtaining their Qualified Watchkeeper status in July 2021.

To move the station forward we need to bring onboard and train more crew.

UWC Atlantic and NCI are appealing to the local community who may be interested in applying to volunteer 10-20 hours per month at the new NCI St Donat’s Bay Coastwatch station from September 2021.


St Donat’s Bay is accessible via the campus, as well as the Vale Heritage Coastal Path.

The idea of the Coastwatch station was first proposed in October 2019 as part of a larger development plan for the seafront. UWC Atlantic aims to renovate the two existing towers along the sea wall; one to be used as a Coastwatch station and the other to be developed into a training facility.


The objective of the NCI is to assist in the protection and preservation of life at sea along the United Kingdom coastline. NCI stations come in all shapes and sizes – from converted beach huts to state-of-the-art observation towers. All stations have two things in common – wide views over the local coastline and each station is manned by trained and dedicated volunteers.

Over the last 6 years, the NCI has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of incidents both initiated by the NCI as well as requests to the NCI from other search and rescue organisations to assist. 2019 was the busiest year to date with a total of 638 incidents recorded.


The aim of the St Donat’s Bay NCI station is to provide safety, support and advice to coastal users and the St Donat’s and surrounding communities. The new station aims to provide education to the community and students of the College on nautical knowledge, search and rescue and accident prevention. Volunteers often gain valuable friendships and bonds with the community whilst enjoying volunteering as a watchkeeper to keep the local community safe.


UWC Atlantic and NCI are currently searching for volunteers from the local community to work alongside cadets, students and staff at the College to deliver a year-round Coastwatch service.

Watchkeepers often come from all walks of life and offer a wide range of transferable skills and experience but hold a common purpose in common: to volunteer their time to search and rescue at sea.

As a volunteer you are required to:

  • Engage in a full training programme (on average, lasting approximately 6 months before becoming fully qualified), followed by a formal assessment, ensuring that rigorous standards approved by HMCG & the RYA are met
  • Attend classroom and on watch training
  • On completion of classroom training, commit to an average of 4 watches per month
  • Attend crew meetings with a minimum of 4 per year
  • Support fundraising activities
  • Attend refresh training as and when required
  • Volunteer on average between 10 to 20 hours per month
  • Wear the NCI uniform when on duty representing the charity. The uniform gives the watchkeeper an air of authority, which has proved essential when dealing with the members of the public in an emergency situation.

If you are interested in volunteering to help establish and progress the new NCI station at UWC Atlantic, please email an expression of interest including a brief introduction of your background to the Station Manager: st.donats.bay@nci.org.uk. Should you be considered, you will be sent an online application form to complete, followed by an informal interview. If successful, you will undergo a DBS check before commencing your training from September 2021.

Apply: st.donats.bay@nci.org.uk